As I read through Proverbs this year, I am struck by how full of action it is. The life of the Christian entails so much more than simply sitting in a church pew for worship services. In fact, if we lived out our faith with the wise deeds described in the book of Proverbs, it would be clear to all those around us (who were not at worship service) what we believed about God. For, “even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright” (Proverbs 20:11). We are not saved by our deeds, but our deeds describe to others if we have a saving faith or not.
Proverbs details what an active faith in God looks like in everyday life. These are five of many actions found in the book of Proverbs that should be a part of a Christian’s everyday life.
God is speaking wisdom into all of life. Proverbs 8 begins with wisdom calling out to all of a city. It is a fallacy to believe that you can separate any part of your life from your faith. Faith should shape our work, provide constraints on our government, and guide us as to how we seek to help our community flourish.
Take a moment and reflect upon the different areas of your life; for example, your work, your friendships, your family, your marriage, your money, your neighbors and your neighborhood. Are you listening to God’s Word as it speaks to those areas? If you are, you will find it provides the framework for how to morally act in that area of your life (Proverbs 8:9). “Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it” (Proverbs 8:33).
Choice-by-choice, our decisions affect our eternal destination. Just as I cannot expect to end up in the sunny south if I continue to drive north so too we cannot expect to end knowing God if we continually choose to act against him. Step-by-step, we can choose to walk on the path that draws us closer to God or against Him. It is our response to Jesus – the way, and the truth, and the life- that shapes our path in life now and eternally. “Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him” (Proverbs 14:2).
Run away from sin! Sin often looks appealing initially; like honey it appears sweet and pleasurable. But unlike honey the sweetness of sin will quickly fade to long-term bitterness. And that’s not all. Sin always leads to death. Would you eat a sweet if you knew that within seconds it would go from tasting great to filling your mouth with a vomit-inducing bitterness? Don’t even go near to sin, no matter how pleasurable it looks! As an African Pastor put it, “Sin will take you where you didn’t plan to go. It will keep you there longer than you planned to stay. And it will cost you more than you intended to pay.” Don’t deny the consequences of sin. Don’t believe yourself to be one who is immune to the effects of sin. Listen to the warning given in Proverbs 14:16. “One who is wise is cautions and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.” Don’t be a fool, turn and run away from evil!
Our accent tells people where we are from. The way we speak tells others if we have been on a path with God or away from Him. “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence” (Proverbs 10:11). God is a God of life, truth, and hope. Therefore, speak life. Speak truth. Speak hope. Speak encouragement. Gossip, cursing, slander, and taking God’s name in vain are ways words of death are spoken. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21a). What does your accent reveal?
A Christian lives out what they believe about God. We see in Proverbs that a Christian will be active in standing up for what is right, in rescuing those who are perishing, and in defending those who are poor and needy. “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8–9). For the Christian, apathy and abdication are to be replaced by an active pursuit for justice.
I am encouraged in this by the model of William Wilberforce, the 19th century English politician who led the movement to abolish the slave trade in England. “Wherever Wilberforce looked, he saw a world untouched by the good news of Jesus Christ. People used and abused others in a perpetual downward spiral of misery and decay. But Wilberforce knew that God had called him to do something about it. And since God had called him, he knew that he couldn’t do it in his own strength. He would need God’s help and the help of others” (Eric Metaxas in “7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness”). Look around. Who are the elderly, the fatherless, the immigrant, the unborn, and the poor that need our help? How can we work together to live for justice in Faribault?
“Listen”, “walk”, “run”, “speak”, and “defend” are a few of many verbs of life that fill this book of the Bible. And these words of life are to fill the Christian’s life too. Christian philosopher and author Dallas Willard said, “Genuine beliefs are made obvious by what people do. We always live up to our beliefs – or down to them, as the case may be.” What do your actions demonstrate about your faith in Jesus?
May we at Saint Luke’s be a people with an active faith, living for God’s glory.